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Travel: Beach Guide 2024 – Nashville Lifestyles

After a winter of being cooped up inside, it’s time to hit the beach!

Luckily Nashville has a wealth of sunny escapes just a short drive or flight away. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorites so you can start making your spring break plans. Grab your friends and family (and don’t forget the sunscreen) and start booking your coastal getaway. 


PENSACOLA

Whether it’s swimming in warm Gulf waters or savoring a mouthwatering meal in a historic hole-in-the-wall, Pensacola welcomes everyone in the fam to coastally distance. Just a six-hour road trip south to the western tip of Florida, Pensacola’s access to miles of crystalline white sand beaches and clear blue waters makes it the perfect destination to get outdoors, soak up the sun, and enjoy a vacation. But the beach isn’t the only thing on the agenda here—in fact, Pensacola offers plenty of adventures and history the whole family can enjoy. The city’s historic section encompasses eight and a half acres and 28 properties located within the footprints of the original Spanish and British forts in downtown Pensacola. Take a self-guided tour of historic homes and watch period-dressed living history interpreters before dipping into one of Pensacola’s unique museums. Have a hankering for freshly caught seafood? Funky food trucks, historic holes-in-the-wall, and white tablecloth eateries cater to all tastes and experiences. The views offer plenty to write home about, too—sparkling ocean crests and charming old-town architecture make a standout meal a simply unforgettable experience. (visitpensacola.com)

BAYTOWNE

Located along the shores of the Choctawhatchee Bay in Northwest Florida, The Village of Baytowne Wharf is home to a plethora of activities the whole family can enjoy. Known as the heart and soul of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, The Village of Baytowne Wharf is a must-visit spot for all things dining, shopping, and entertainment. Visitors and locals alike flock here for everything from a fun-filled day trip to a full-fledged vacation that will have you anxiously awaiting your next trip. Relax while the kids burn off all their energy playing at the nautical-themed Adventure Land Playground, or head to the Baytowne Adventure Zone and zip line across the lagoon for soaring views the whole family can enjoy. With more than a dozen restaurants, charming boutiques, vibrant nightlife, and an array of outdoor festivals and events, there is no shortage of entertainment in Baytowne. The village is also close to the Baytowne Marina, Jolee Island Nature Park, and is just a tram ride from the beach. (baytownewharf.com)

CAPE GIRARDEAU

Nestled along the mighty Mississippi River, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, offers a rich variety of activities that cater to every traveler’s interest, while boasting a blend of city atmosphere with small-town hospitality. Experience a charming downtown district with plenty to do within walking distance of one another. Shop at unique boutiques, eat at locally owned restaurants or stroll through antique shops. Don’t forget to stroll alongside the Mississippi River as part of your visit. The murals on each side of the river wall bring Cape’s history to life. With daily flights from Nashville’s airport, Cape Girardeau is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, nature lover, or history buff, our city has something special for you. Uncover the hidden gems, savor local flavors, and immerse yourself in the unique culture that defines Cape Girardeau. (visitcape.com)

THE BEACHES OF 30A

30A, the 28-mile stretch of Florida coastline that meanders down a short length of the Florida Panhandle is a favorite for Nashvillians and it’s easy to see why: A quick seven hours by car, or a short direct flight into Destin-Fort Walton Beach or Northwest Florida Beaches International airports makes access to the area as easy as living there. Known around the world for its white, sugar-sand beaches, state preserves, recreational areas, shopping, and entertainment, 30A is the ultimate destination for families and couples looking to get away for some rest and relaxation. (30a.com) And what better way to enjoy this coastal paradise than in a rental from Newman-Dailey? With a diverse collection of quality properties, including Destin beach houses and 30A vacation homes along the area’s pristine beaches, Newman-Dailey has become a trusted source for family vacation planning, managing 64 associations, from large properties of approximately 300 units, to smaller communities of eight units. (destinvacation.com)

SOUTH WALTON

Located on the Northwest Florida Panhandle along the Gulf of Mexico, South Walton is continually recognized as a premier beach vacation destination and offers endless opportunities for visitors to find their perfect beach. The region’s sugar-white sand beaches and turquoise water complement 16 unique beach neighborhoods. This year-round destination is easily accessible from the Nashville area and perfect for a relaxing spring vacation. Craving some outdoor exploration to go along with your beach trip? Vast nature preserves create a relaxed respite not often found in similar destinations, offering adventure-seekers more than 200 miles of hiking and biking trails, four state parks, a 15,000-acre state forest and 15 rare coastal dune lakes. And after all that activity, you’re sure to work up an appetite. Not to worry, South Walton is a culinary hotspot with 200-plus restaurants featuring fresh-from-the-Gulf seafood and other locally sourced ingredients. The area also offers fabulous resorts, golf courses, historic sites, shopping, and of course, some of the most breathtaking beaches in the country. (visitsouthwalton.com)

GULF SHORES/ ORANGE BEACH

Set along the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama’s Gulf Shores is marked by its 32 miles of white sand beaches, and acres of preserved wildlife. Yes, there’s kitschy beach-town fun and plenty of shopping, but it can also be a retreat into nature. Plan to anchor your stay at Gulf State Park, a 6,150-acre destination that stands out for its preserved ecosystem—as well as the many ways it allows visitors to connect with the nature around them. There are two miles of beach connected to the park, so you can walk, run, and swim the surf, hit the trails for a hike through the park, or drop a line at the fishing and education pier. The park is also home to Lake Shelby, where more swimming and paddling await. With so many unique waterways surrounding the Alabama Gulf Coast, visitors can enjoy an array of outdoor activities. Whether it’s kayaking on the Coastal Alabama Back Bay Blueway, biking on the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, golfing at one of the area’s 15+ courses, or fishing out in the Gulf, there’s something for every nature lover to enjoy. Cap off the evening with some traditional Gulf Coast dining at one of the many beachside restaurants and enjoy fresh Gulf seafood while basking in the stunning waterfront-seating views. (gulfshores.com) While you’re there, book a stay at the stunning Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton Hotel with stunning beach views and four-star accommodations. (lodgeatgulfstatepark.com)

FRANKLIN COUNTY

Tucked away along Florida’s Northern Gulf coast is a two-lane coastal highway that meanders through the quiet coastal communities of Apalachicola, St. George Island, Carrabelle, Eastpoint and Alligator Point. This is Florida’s Forgotten Coast, a deep-water haven of year-round boating and fishing. Located about an hour south of Tallahassee, Franklin County is a protected oasis with quiet beaches, wooded trails and scenic paddling sloughs. The string of rural communities that stretch along the coast is the last vestige of the Florida you remember from childhood. Beach lovers will appreciate that the St. George Island State Park Beach is consistently ranked among the top in the country. This beach park features nine miles of undeveloped shoreline with accessibility amenities and has some of the region’s finest birdwatching opportunities and camping facilities. Take to the water by kayak or paddleboard to see the coast and get some exercise in the process, or book a relaxing sunset tour of the historic waterfront. And if nature is more your thing, you’re in luck: the area is one of the most productive biospheres in the world and is a seasonal fly-way for several migrating birds and butterflies. The Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve and Visitor Center in Eastpoint features a wooded boardwalk trail and touch tanks. Nearby, the Tate’s Hell State Forest is home to one of Florida’s most unusual nature wonders: a dwarf cypress swamp featuring 300-year old ancient cypress trees no taller than 15 feet! (floridasforgottencoast.com)

SANDESTIN, FL

Sandestin is a sprawling 2,400-acre resort that showcases the best of the Gulf of Mexico on its southern border and the Choctawhatchee Bay to the north. Staying active is a breeze because Sandestin offers 15 tennis courts, 19 swimming pools, and four championship golf courses. And you can find the perfect accommodation to fit any trip or vacation, since there are also 30 different neighborhoods within Sandestin, offering approximately 1,600 accommodations to choose from! Choose your own adventure in this stunning space: from outdoor activities and sports to shopping and dining, Sandestin truly offers something for everyone. Embrace serene paddle sessions, unwind on the Gulf’s emerald shores, and savor fresh, local seafood alongside breathtaking views. Whether you come for world-class events or tranquil relaxation, Sandestin is your gateway to the extraordinary. (visitsouthwalton.com)


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